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Swim England has provided initial guidance for UK Active and the Sport and Recreation Alliance on how to re-open more than 4,000 of the country’s swimming pools. In consultation with key partners, the national governing body will now start to develop more detailed recommendations for operators, clubs, swim schools and stakeholders, which will be based on the latest scientific guidance on measures needed to ensure the safe use of facilities following the Coronavirus lockdown.

Swim England has been working closely with pool operators on how to maintain pools since they were shut on Friday 20 March by the Government. Webinars, technical Q&As, and advice on how to hibernate pools or manage the facility during the lockdown have been shared with hundreds of local authorities and facility owners. The next step will be emergence, and detailed plans will be produced when the Government unveils its’ exit strategy from the lockdown.

Swim England Head of Facilities, Richard Lamburn, said: “We’ve been in discussions with government departments and provided initial guidance on the re-opening of swimming pools. The science and understanding of Covid-19 in the swimming pool environment is evolving every day, and we are continuing to monitor and support research in this area in co-operation with international partners. We will be developing our guidance in line with scientific research and alongside the information from the Government on the national exit of the lockdown.”

Ensuring information is in place 

Lamburn further stated: “The exit strategy will have a significant impact on how the sector can operate and, until these exact details are known, we won’t be issuing any detailed advice. However, we are working hard to ensure that the information is in place ready for when the Government announces the easing of the measures.”

Swim England would ideally like up to three weeks’ notice for the industry to get pools ready for use again. However, Swim England is endeavouring to support the industry, whatever the time frame, to ensure facilities are safe and ready for swimmers to return to the pool following the enforced closure. A number of procedures need to be carried out, such as re-heating the pool, which can only be increased by 0.25 degrees an hour, and ensuring that the water has passed a micro-biological test.

“We have been in regular communication with key stakeholders regarding the impact on facilities and have also been sharing knowledge and information with Sport England, Swim Ireland, Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales”, Lamburn added. “A lot of pools have never closed before so we’ve been providing the guidance and support needed to local authorities and operators to ensure they were safely shut down and maintained.”

Swim England also sits on the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group’s Technical and executive committee to assist with detailed guidance notes on the closure and reopening of facilities.

Issued 29 April 2020